It’ll be the Rangers against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Senators, who finished second in the Atlantic Division behind Montreal, eliminated the Boston Bruins on Sunday with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 6. Ottawa will have home-ice advantage against the Rangers when the best-of-seven series begins Thursday night in Ottawa.
The last time the Rangers, who ousted Montreal on Saturday night, faced two teams from Canada in the first two rounds was 80 years ago. In 1937, the Rangers played the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Maroons and won all four games before losing to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final.
Much more recently, the Rangers, guided by coach John Tortorella, beat the Senators in the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals in their only meeting in the playoffs. The Rangers won, 2-1, in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers, who were off Sunday after Saturday night’s series-clinching 3-1 victory over the Canadiens, traded Derick Brassard to the Senators for Mika Zibanejad last summer.
Brassard, always a factor on the power play, had two goals and a team-high eight points in the first round for Ottawa. He assisted on the overtime winner Sunday — on the power play.
Senators goalie Craig Anderson has outstanding career numbers against the Rangers. He is 10-5-3 with a 1.77 goals-against average, .941 save percentage and four shutouts.
This season Anderson was 2-0 with one shutout against the Rangers. He stopped 51 of 52 shots in the victories.
Rangers players and coaches planned on watching Sunday’s Senators-Bruins game, and associate coach Scott Arniel was scouting in Boston at TD Garden.
“We know it’s either Ottawa or Boston,” coach Alain Vig neault said late Saturday. “We’re going to start getting ready. I think what made our success during the year was when we took it a game at a time and never got ahead of ourselves. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves now.”
Dan Girardi said either Boston or Ottawa would present another set of challenges.
“We’re really happy with the way we played the last couple of games, but our next opponent will be different and we have to prepare differently,” Girardi said. “We need to regroup [Sunday] and watch a little hockey and see what’s going on.”
For example, under coach Guy Boucher, the Senators play a 1-3-1 system, which is designed to make it difficult for opponents to pass or carry the puck through the neutral zone.
“It’s no secret that we haven’t been having the greatest year at home, so to get two out of three at home [against Montreal] is really good for us,” Girardi said. “Through my long career here, for the most part, we’ve used six or seven games [to get through the first round] . . . [We were] able to, on home ice with a 3-2 lead, to close it out.’’
The Rangers, who led the NHL with 27 regular-season road wins, also won two of three playoff games in Montreal.
The Senators won two of three against the Rangers during the regular season.
When the teams split the first two at the Garden early in the season, Antti Raanta, not Henrik Lundqvist, was in net for a 2-0 Rangers loss on Nov. 27 and a 4-3 win a month later. In the penultimate game of the season, with the Rangers resting a half-dozen regulars, the Senators won, 3-1, in Ottawa.